Worthy of the Gospel
(25th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20-27; Matthew 20:1-16)
There are many individual verses in Scripture that can be said to summarize the Message of La Salette. We find such a verse in today’s second reading: “Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Since in many places the Anniversary of the Apparition is being celebrated this month, let us see how La Salette helps us respond to Paul’s exhortation.
Respect for the Lord’s Name and the things of God is not simply the opposite of disdain. Yes, disrespect is to be avoided; as Isaiah says, “Let the scoundrel forsake his way.” But if our respect does not lead to a deep abiding love for the Lord, it is not yet “worthy.”
Praying well naturally includes the avoidance of distractions—though sometimes distractions are the real prayer. But Isaiah also says, “Let the wicked forsake his thoughts.” A genuinely prayerful life is, as it were, so filled with prayer as to leave no room for wicked thoughts. As today’s Psalm says, “The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.”
The evangelical spirit, inherent in Paul’s vision of Christian life and in the example he sets, reminds us that the following of Christ is not a private devotion. If we are to make Mary’s message known, all the more we must live to attract others to the Gospel. There must be no selfish thinking, no comparing our achievements (like the workers in the vineyard) to those of others.
Submission is much more than doing as we are told. Isaiah reminds us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” Those who want a God suited to their own thoughts and ways are inclined to blame him in hard times.
It is in such moments that we need to remember that “The Lord is just in all his ways and holy in all his works,” not in a way to inspire fear, but drawing us to “turn to him for mercy” to quote again the psalmist and Isaiah.
In Philippians 1:6, St. Paul expresses his confidence “that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” It is he who gives worth to what we do.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.